Gary Littman

OWNER OF THE LANGUAGE HOUSE

Garry Littman is the owner and director of The Language House in Geneva which organises English language training for professional people, companies and students. He was a radio and newspaper journalist in his native Australia and ran a restaurant in Kathmandu in his younger days. He is an English language trainer and an aficionado of pétanque.

A mining company greener than Greenpeace

Vedanta is a philosophy based on the Vedas, the sacred and ancient scriptures of the Hindus. Veda means ‘knowledge’ and Anta means ‘end’.

Vedanta Resources is the name of one of the planet’s largest mining and energy companies. The headline, “Holistic Community Empowerment”, which refers to its massive copper mines in Zambia, dominates its homepage. “Green Innovations” and “Responsible Restorations” are the titles of the other articles on the homepage. Its website and logo are awash with verdant green and sky blue.

The first paragraph reads:

“A holistic development of communities creates a society that provides equal opportunities, across gender and socio-economic disparity. Eradicating poverty and unemployment is as important as providing educational institutions and empowering women and is an integral part of the group’s Corporate Social Responsibility.”

Wow! Clearly, mining is secondary to its sacred love of the local people as illustrated by a photograph of a happy Zambian villager surrounded by a couple of cows that would comfortably fit in a Swiss tourism campaign. The text pushes all the right ethical buttons:

Holistic/empowerment/equal opportunity/ reducing gender and socio-economic disparity/eradicating poverty and unemployment/education/empowering woman and finally, in capital letters: Corporate Social Responsibility. Why capital letters? Because titles in capital letters are like bankers’ suits; deserving of respect.

Vedanta and its shareholders also get to share the end knowledge: being caring and considerate pays well. Extremely well.  Projected 2015 revenue for Vedanta, give or take a few well-scrubbed cows, is US$12.9 billion.

This is not a mining company, you might say. This is an international aid organisation. This is Greenpeace masquerading as a mining company. Invest your money now!

It’s a far cry from some mining companies which have been criticised for human rights violations and polluting rivers and lands of local people and wildlife. Take for example this headline from The Guardian this week: ‘I drank the water and ate the fish. We all did. The acid has damaged me permanently’

Coincidentally, the article talks about a copper mine in Zambia. But the weirdest coincidence is that the mining company mentioned in the article has the same name as our above-mentioned shining example of Corporate Social Responsibility. Bizarre! Obviously it can’t be the same company, because the Church of England disinvested itself from this evil twin in 2011 stating:“We are not satisfied that Vedanta has shown, or is likely in future to show, the level of respect for human rights and local communities that we expect.”

Survival International said of this other Vedanta: “Anybody that has shares in Vedanta should sell them today if they care about human rights.”

The Economic Times of India said one of Vedanta’s mining projects in India would “impoverish a defenceless populace, perhaps to extinction.”

Frontpageafricaonline.com wrote: “Vedanta rapes Zambia in copper deal”

I expect the good Vedanta will soon be taking the bad Vedanta to court and there will be a prompt and responsible restoration of its good name. Mark my words.

 

 

 

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